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Topic: Arduino giant sparking magnet for mad scientist (Read 9192 times) previous topic - next topic


Oct 30, 2010, 09:44 am Last Edit: Apr 11, 2013, 04:16 am by macegr Reason: 1
Was running out of ideas for a Halloween costume, and fell back on the old standby "Mad Scientist". I mean, I have all the stuff already :)

Actually I had the lab coat and magnet already. The idea was to hang out next to the line for the Insane Clown Posse when they had a concert in town, around the time of the whole "Miracles" meme. I built the giant magnet out of two layers of 2" styrofoam insulation panel from Home Depot. Did not have a hot wire foam cutter, so I made one by running about 20 amps through a piece of 28 gauge magnet wire.

So I wanted to use the magnet for the mad scientist costume this weekend, but thought it needed a little more pizazz. Also, some bracing across the ends so it wouldn't get crushed and broken. A piece of clear acrylic seemed like a good idea. Then, I realized that the acrylic could have more than just a structural function. I called up TechShop and reserved some laser time, and etched fractal lightning patterns on three panels.

I also cut some notches in the ends to fit a 100mA, five-chip blue LED (same as used on the MegaBrite). A little acrylic glue bonded the LEDs in place and they sidelit the fractal design extremely well.

Next, I cut slots and pockets in the foam, and mounted the panels and an Arduino Uno, ShiftBrite Shield, ShiftBar, battery pack, speakers, and audio amp.

The result is pretty fun, if a little unexplained why a magnet is throwing off sparks (how do they work?!). Well, magnets would be even cooler if they did, I think. Less useful maybe. Anyway, here's the video of the finished product. The audio feature was last minute, so I had to start using duct tape...the actual sound could be tweaked a bit too.

Unique RGB LED Modules and Arduino shields: http://www.macetech.com/store



Love the creativity. Duct Tape is a Halloween REQUIREMENT  ;)




That's awesome! I love it!


I think it would make Dr. Narbonic proud!

BTW - if you haven't seen the web comic before, it is one of the better ones to have appeared on the net!

Happy Halloween!

I will not respond to Arduino help PM's from random forum users; if you have such a question, start a new topic thread.


What hardware are you using to play the sound effects?


mightyohm: Nothing, almost. Changed Timer0 to 60Hz and am using analogWrite to get a varying pulse width for something a bit more interesting than a simple hum.
Unique RGB LED Modules and Arduino shields: http://www.macetech.com/store


I hate cutting foam, slightest twitch and you lose half your project.


macegr, that's awesome. I wish I thought of that for my costume:

There's a video of it in action on my blog.


I hope you don't mind, but I posted your magnet in my blog along with my costume  (with proper credit of course).

Happy Halloween!! Evil Mad Scientists unite!


Well, either way, looks like Hack-a-day took my tip and posted your magnet. Just glad you got the recognition for your work!


Bill, it's lame they would headline my project off a tip for yours. I think your costume is better anyway. Thanks!
Unique RGB LED Modules and Arduino shields: http://www.macetech.com/store


Nah, you and your magnet are much more headline worthy. I'm happy just being in the weekend links.

I was thinking about making a 'death ray' prop for next year using a laser pointer and diffraction lens, but the giant magnet seems much more catchy. Although I might have to add my own spin and make it with real sparks.  ;D

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